Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
Jacinth Marsden believes divine intervention is responsible for the positive turn her 11-year-old daughter, Kayona Chue, has taken in her traumatic battle with brain cancer.
Kayona's life was normal up until she began having recurring headaches at age four.
"My head was hurting a lot, so my mother would give me Children's Panadol. It would wear off a little before coming back, so one day she took me to the doctor," Kayona told The Gleaner.
Reality soon started to seep in as it was discovered that Kayona had a brain tumour that was 5.6cm in length.
"We did multiple tests and a couple months after taking her out of the hospital, it shrank to less than 2cm without the use of any form of medication and the headaches had stopped. I was so relieved," Marsden recalled.
Four years later however, the family sank to a new low as Kayona's headaches resurfaced, except this time the tumour had grown to more than 6cm and had severe effects on her body, reducing her movement, leaving her in almost a vegetative state.
Kayona was then admitted into the Bustamante Hospital for Children where she spent over a year undergoing several tests and surgeries.
"I did many surgeries as I could not walk, could not talk and could not see. I even did 30 days of laser treatment. I couldn't even wiggle my toes and that made me feel so sad to know I couldn't do anything," Kayona said. "I even had to use my left hand to lift up my right as I could not move that either."
Marsden spent months sleeping on a chair beside Kayona's bed at the hospital as she never gave up hope.
"Bwoy, mi a tell u, it never pretty but God saw me through. She couldn't even say 'Mommy', wore Pampers and couldn't do anything for over a year," she said. "I felt sad because, to know that she was never born like this. I was distraught but I still had belief."
It was during this time that Philip Liu, founder of the Angels of Love Foundation, encountered Kayona at the hospital, listened to her story and was so touched that he decided to provide assistance.
"They helped us out by paying for the surgeries and medication. If Kayona needed any little thing they sent it to us," Marsden said.
Kayona has now fully recovered, eight years after the whole ordeal started. She has her sight, mobility in all her limbs and the ability to speak.
A small piece of the tumour remains, but it is inactive as the cells have died from laser treatment.
It is still costly, however, as Kayona has to take medication for the rest of her life. The medication, at a cost of $2,000, has to be purchased every two weeks.
Marsden remains grateful, however, as her daughter is back to normal.
"I remembered when Kayona used to smile and her mouth would twist all the way around. I kept hoping that one day she would smile again. I believed and look, look, she's smiling again," Marsden said.